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Careful to Be Faithful

Friday, January 13, 2012

Some commenters lately seem to have typecast Grace to You as a bunch of cranky old men, fearful of a changing world that threatens their long-held positions of power. If that’s what you or someone you know believes about John MacArthur and Grace to You, allow me to make a couple of clarifications. First, a word about the nature of this ministry…

One person asked if Grace to You was the proverbial pot calling the kettle black for criticizing multisite churches that broadcast their preacher to other congregations. A valid question. It’s important to say up front, Grace to You is not to be the model for the local church.

Grace to You is a para-church ministry, not a local church. According to our Purpose Statement, we exist “to teach biblical truth with clarity, taking advantage of various means of mass communications to expand the sphere of John MacArthur’s teaching ministry.” Further,

Our role is not to supplant the local church’s ministry, but to support it by providing additional resources for those hungering for the truth of God’s Word. Media ministries can never substitute for involvement in a biblical church, group Bible study, or interaction with a teacher. Yet we sense the need for more in-depth resources, evidenced by the many Christians and Christian leaders worldwide who depend on our ministry to supplement their own study.

As a para-church ministry, there’s no biblical mandate for our organization. We have freedom to pursue it (biblically, culturally, politically), but if political or economic winds blow a different direction, well, the Lord gives no guarantees that Grace to You will continue to exist. We exist at the mercy of God’s good providence.

By contrast, the local church is a mandated organization. The Lord Jesus Christ created it (Matt. 16:18), commissioned it (Matt. 28:18-20), equipped it (Eph. 4:7, 11-12), and governs it (Matt. 18:15-20). Nothing—not political, economic, cultural influences, not even the gates of hell itself—can prevail against the Lord and His church.

Another interesting set of criticisms (and snipes) in the comment thread seem to indicate a misunderstanding about our view of technology. Some seem to think we are hypocritical to caution against technological innovation in the local church (i.e., multisite churches). The idea seems to be, if you use technology, you can’t criticize when others use it. One commenter asked,

All technology was given by God to reach the lost. We should be using every piece of it for the harvest before Satan uses it for his purpose. Your own ministry uses social media. Why wouldn’t you want to use it in the church?

To answer that question straight up, we’ve never said churches should not use technology. That’s not the point, and it never was the point. We are cautious about using technology and think others, especially churches, should be too.

Marshall McLuhan, Neil Postman, Nicholas Carr, and other “prophets” of the technology age have raised legitimate concerns about the effects of technology. We’re not alarmists, and we’re obviously not Luddites, but we think it’s wise to think about using technology before diving into it. That’s especially true for Christians who are commanded to test everything—ourselves (2 Cor. 13:5), words (1 Cor. 14:29; 1 Thess. 5:21), the spirits (1 John 4:1), and especially “gifts” from the culture (1 John 2:15-17)—to determine if it is or isn’t according to the will of God (Rom. 12:2). So, we don’t hate technology, or ideas, or innovation; but we are cautious because we fear the Lord and want to do what pleases Him.

One last word…being careful doesn’t mean we’re advocates for the moth-ball smelling churches today’s innovators are reacting against. We deplore dead orthodoxy and cold tradition more than anyone. We want churches to submit every decision, every pattern, every model, every initiative, every tradition, and every idea to the authority of God’s Word. Why? Because doing God’s work in God’s way glorifies Christ, puts His great gospel on display, and saves and sanctifies God’s elect.

Being careful is not the quick path to immediate gratification and big numbers—all the fleshly marks of success. It’s the slower, more methodical, deliberate, and (often) mundane walk of Christian faithfulness and church growth described by the Scripture. We want you to be careful to be faithful. That’s the true path to enduring joy and blessing.

Travis Allen
Managing Director


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#1  Posted by Drew Pitchford  |  Friday, January 13, 2012at 1:23 PM

I am grateful for the ministry of John MacArthur and GTY. I am a young (21) computer scientist, so of course, I love all the newest innovations that come along. But I am grateful for the wisdom of John and GTY concerning how to use technology in the church. I think people my age need to learn how to submit to elders ( who have more wisdom) when facing issues like this. Also, as usual for this ministry, a defense is given using Scripture. Not logic or rationale, but Scripture is used to make their points. Thank you for that!

#2  Posted by Trent Whalin  |  Friday, January 13, 2012at 2:23 PM

Thanks for your discernment! It bothers me how nowadays people will not listen to elders (unfortunately I find myself doing that sometimes) especially when it comes to the Word of God.

#3  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Friday, January 13, 2012at 5:48 PM

Good post.. as well I like your picture on this blog.. the Muppets.. :)

#4  Posted by Gm R  |  Saturday, January 14, 2012at 1:47 AM

I agree Dan. I also like the picture on the blog, so cute. =)

Also, I just can't thank God enough for John Mac and GTY Ministries for they are indeed brave souls. May the Lord God bless them all the more.

#5  Posted by Roland Szanto  |  Saturday, January 14, 2012at 3:37 AM

I am thankful for this ministry. It helps me and others in our walk with Christ. Sometimes, when you have opposition, you are doing the right thing...

#6  Posted by Jonathan Pruett  |  Saturday, January 14, 2012at 9:32 AM

Well said Travis! Thanks for the clarification.

#7  Posted by Scott Sorum  |  Saturday, January 14, 2012at 11:27 AM

I very much appreciate the ministry of GTY and your willingness to stand up tell it like it is. I also, appreciate the careful and thoughtful process of not just going to the latest & greatest without careful consideration and Biblical examination. Wish the rest of the "church" would be willing to follow your example. Keep up the great work! May God continue to give you wisdom and discernment to stand for the truth.

#8  Posted by David Dameron  |  Saturday, January 14, 2012at 1:19 PM

Travis, I agree! Using technology to communicate the gospel is different than using technology as a selling point to come to church, which is what many churches try to do. The technology becomes the draw, where it's "come to our church, we are so hip we're on Twitter and Facebook and we have Wi-Fi in our sanctuary!" The focus easily becomes just getting people to come to a building instead of getting believers to come together to fellowship with each other. Of course, like you I'm not saying these technologies or any others are wrong in and of themselves and cannot be used in churches, but just that they are often misused because nobody bothered to pray about if and how to use them.

#9  Posted by Andrew C Smith  |  Saturday, January 14, 2012at 2:23 PM

I have always been grateful to John and the GTY family for the doctrinal position the GTY holds. Our belief and faith will be severely tried, I believe, in the very near future. Without the strengthening of the doctrinal Word, many will fall victim to the enemy.

John has always taught the Truth, though many don’t want to hear it or believe it.

Thank you for your ministry!

As the old hymn says:

Am I a soldier of the cross,

A follower of the Lamb,

And shall I fear to own His cause,

Or blush to speak His Name?

Must I be carried to the skies

On flowery beds of ease,

While others fought to win the prize,

And sailed through bloody seas?

The tide is coming...

#10  Posted by Jodi Denning  |  Saturday, January 14, 2012at 4:10 PM

Thank you all for your diligent efforts. I am so grateful that GTY and John MacArthur make his lifetime of teaching available via the internet. I have used these resources for several years, and have learned so much that has positively impacted my walk with Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I know of no other place to have access to this kind of Biblical Truth, although there may be places where it can be found.

I now have the opportunity to spend 2 nights a week in jail, ministering to the women there. John MacArthur teachings figure prominently in my studies I prepare for the women. And at Christmas I was able to purchase and donate a MacArthur Study Bible for each pod (cell block). I was thrilled to see last week when I taught my two Bible studies that the Bibles were already beginning to show wear!!! Praise God that His truth is reaching people.

Again, a heartfelt thanks for all you do. The work of John MacArthur and Grace to You is deeply appreciated. None of you will know the full impact of this ministry until you are in heaven!

#11  Posted by Guy Lacelle  |  Saturday, January 14, 2012at 7:13 PM

I thank our Lord for John MacArthur's teaching and GTY daily. Thank you, staff at GTY. Thank you for standing firm in the truth while most are turning to what the world wants to hear.

#13  Posted by Lamar Carnes  |  Sunday, January 15, 2012at 4:24 AM

I appreciate the clarification given by Travis about Grace to You and also Grace Community Church and John MacArthur's position I would presume. This was certain needed and helpful.

I would hope and pray that all of the multi-site Church plant ministries engage in such prayer, thoughtfulness and concerns about the utilization of modern technology. We certainly however never want to become like the Amish! I think there still lingers some reservations however in the hearts and minds of some, that using live-streaming video is somehow wrong and sinful and that a Church that has a plant utilizing this it not a true Church in a Biblical sense. I personally cannot arrive at that conclusion at all from the Bible. In Acts and other Epistles we find Churches meeting in a home. Very small it seems. Mutli-site locations may stream in the main minister and his message but there are ministers on site, music and praise going on with live folks insofar as bodies on site, and other venues taking place with teaching and counseling and Bible study. So, it is apparant that some do not consider the "main speaker" being streamed in as being Biblical. Not sure I could state that this position against that is "absolutely a thus saith the Lord"! It seems to me more of a preference and also perhaps "we can do it a better way" which I guess would be have "ALL" of them meet at one location and never do such things. I also consider all of this as something that Satan is now using to divide us again. Making a "big" issue on these points to me is rather very minor things - better to deal with doctrine and heresy rather than methodogies which we all have great freedom from the Lord to engage in. We could argue until the end of the world about "is it the best way", and never get any where. My point is, pray for each other, work together to establish solild, doctrinally sound ministries, don't glamorize baser fleshly and carnal desires or worldly products which harm folks, and hopefully God will save multitudes and bring an awakening to our nation. Salvation isn't wrapped up in or having to do with physical technology, clothing we wear or don't wear, hair length, earings in the ear, tatoo's, what we eat or don't eat, whether there are candles or not, or a piano or not, or bands and drums or not! It has to do with the Gospel pure and simple. By grace through faith in Christ alone! So, let us not get to radical on all of this stuff from either side of the issue. Listen to each side and learn from each other is also a good idea! None of us have the "final" word on many things even though we like to think we do! As I get older I find I know less than I thought I did about many things. I pray for the work of Grace Community and Grace to You. One of the most dedicated ministries over the years which has been faithful to the word of God. God bless all of you.

#14  Posted by Rick Jones  |  Sunday, January 15, 2012at 6:10 PM

Hey Travis, I cannot tell you how much I appreciate what you all do at Grace To You. The resources that you all provide makes for great learning in the Sunday school classes I've taught. With that said I have faced opposition within some of the church leaders in the past because I didn't shy away from the tough issues and doctrines. John has proven to me that I can trust what he teaches is true. His and your hearts are filled with one desire and that is to glorify God which is mine as well.

For a split second there I thought you posted a picture of me but then I realized they were characters of the Mumpets. Oh well.

#15  Posted by Benjamin Booker  |  Sunday, January 15, 2012at 10:02 PM

Pretty straight forward. Thank you for your carefulness to be faithful GTY!

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; 57 but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.

1 Cor 15:56-58 (NASB95)

#16  Posted by RICHARD GIANNOTTI  |  Monday, January 16, 2012at 6:27 AM

Well stated. I cannot even begin to express the sanctifying power of being under true Biblical teaching. Whether in person, radio, iPod, or video stream, I would consider John MacArthur a modern day Paul who deeply cares for the Church as a whole because of such erroneous teaching out there and his conviction to "get it right." Thank the Lord for CDs and the internet.

#17  Posted by Terrence Sinanan  |  Monday, January 16, 2012at 12:27 PM

I am absolutely greatful to John MacArthur and Grace to You for the resources made available via the internet. His sermons and the level of study that goes into each one is unparallel in this modern age. May Grace to You be always available to all.

#18  Posted by Richard Carter  |  Wednesday, January 18, 2012at 4:30 AM

Thank you for being faithful to explain your position... again. I never really gave the comparison of Grace to You and a local church this level of thought. However, I thank God for the tremendous work you all are doing. When we have a discussion about some of the more elusive truths, Grace to You, and John MacArthur's teaching often is the source we go to to help us work through them. I am very thankful God raises up faithful men in times when they are needed. John MacArthur, thank you for hearing and obeying God's call. I hope to meet you in person here on earth some day soon.

#19  Posted by Brad Weidenhammer  |  Wednesday, January 18, 2012at 9:11 AM

I would like to add my deep appreciation to GTY for their ministry also. This biblicly based teaching is very rare these days. When the bible is taken seriously as God's objective revelation of truth the power of God in unleashed to grow the true Church.

When the bible is subject to the latest fad, wether it be some cultural thing or something like technology, Gods power is diminished.

I could not figure for the longest time why I was not being "fed" at church until I was blessed to have access to the resources of JMAC and GTY. I was completely frustrated with the local Church's pragmatic approach, that took its cue from the world (to supposedly win the world). I saw many baptisms/testimonies where I wondered if the person was actually saved or not. I think there are many who think they are Christains but are not. What could be worse than that?

There is nothing more important than subjecting everything, including your self and your ideas to the word of GOD. GTY does this. They are not perfect but God's word is.

Keep going Travis etc.

People like myself now have a ministry we can go to for a good meal while the local land is in famine.

I praise God and give thanks to Him for your faithfullness to God's Word.

Brad